6 superannuation tips for students

16 February 2024

Whether you're studying for the first time, learning a trade or upskilling for a career change, you'll find yourself keeping busy. And making time to manage your finances can easily slip away. Some simple tips can help keep you across your money - even if it seems like a long time until you can access it.

For many people, studying can mean juggling a busy schedule between education and paid work. You may even have a few different jobs that make contributions to your super savings. Read on to see how you can keep track of your super.


Tips to keep track of your super while you study

1. Choose a fund you can stay with for the long-term

Choose a top-performing fund for your super – one you can stay with for the future. Look at fees and performance over the long term and consider your future. If you’re in your early 20s, your super is invested for at least 40 years, so fees and long-term performance are key.




2. Let any new employers know which super fund you’re with when you change jobs

For most jobs you can choose which fund your employer super contributions are paid into. Just tell your employer which fund you are with and provide them with the details needed. These include your fund’s unique superannuation identifier (USI) and Australian Business Number (ABN).

If you’re an AustralianSuper member you can download this form to give to your employer, with the key information already filled out.

Thanks to super stapling rules, if you don’t nominate a super fund, your employer must check if you have an existing fund on the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) database. This helps avoid your super getting paid into multiple accounts.

3. Make sure you're getting super contributions

If you’re working while you’re studying, you may be eligible for employer super contributions.

In Australia, your employer must pay what’s known as the super guarantee (SG). You may be eligible if you’re:

  • Classified as an employee (as opposed to a contractor)
  • 18 years old or older
  • Under 18 years old and you work more than 30 hours a week.

Make sure you understand what you’re entitled to, so you don’t miss out on any payments. You can find out more on the ATO website.

The SG rate is legislated to rise on by 0.5% a year until it reaches 12% by 2025.



4. Understand net benefit

Your super fund’s main job is to contribute to the growth of your retirement savings by delivering you returns on the money put into your super. You do your bit – your money goes in; a good fund does its bit, – by investing your money with skill and focus. The combined result should be a growing balance over the course of your working life and in retirement.

That’s the investment part. Then there’s the fees and costs – what your fund charges to manage and invest your money.

In relation to your super, net benefit is the investment return delivered to you by your super fund, minus the admin and investment fees and costs, and taxes.



5. Find any lost super

Do you know how many super accounts you have? If you’ve had more than one job, you could have ‘lost’ super. Doing a simple super search could help track down any money that belongs to you.

You can find any lost super you may have using the ATO online services through myGov. Or, if you’re an AustralianSuper member – log into your account via the Member portal and give the Fund consent to use your Tax File Number (TFN). – We can help track down your lost super.  


6. Consider combining your super into one account

If you do find lost super, you might want to consider combining your accounts into one. By doing this, you can save on fees that might be eating away your balance – if you’re no longer working in that job. You can also avoid potential duplicate insurance policies, which you might’ve automatically received.

Before deciding to combine multiple accounts, look out for any fees or charges that may apply. Make sure you also understand the impact of combining your accounts on any other benefits, such as insurance. We recommend you consider seeking financial advice.

Insurance cover linked to your super may lapse if there are no contributions made over 16 months. Some super funds may also cancel your insurance if your account balance is too low. Be sure to have a look at the insurance cover you have through your super, as well as check any special conditions that might apply if you’re off work.

Learn more: insurance through australiansuper




Get a super boost from the Government

While you're studying, you might only be working casually, part-time, or juggling a low-paying full-time job. If this is the case, and you earn less than $58,445 (in the 2023-2024 financial year) and you make an after tax contribution to your super, you may be eligible for a super co-contribution from the Australian Government.

The government will match 50 cents for every $1 you add to your super from your after-tax income (up to a maximum of $500 a year) if you:

  • make after-tax contributions to your super,
  • earn $43,445 or less a year before tax (financial year 2023-24), and
  • meet other eligibility criteria 

If you earn more than $43,445 in the financial year 2023-24, the matching rate gradually reduces until it phases out completely at $58,445.

This could mean up to a $500 contribution from the Government – depending on your income. This co-contribution gets paid directly into your super account after you’ve lodged your tax return for that year.



Plan for your future

While retirement might seem like a long way off yet, finding small ways to contribute to your super now can have a huge impact on you achieving your best possible retirement1, even when you might not be earning a lot of money.


1. Before adding to your super, consider your financial circumstances, contribution caps that may apply, and tax issues. We recommend you consider seeking financial advice.

This may include general advice which doesn't take into account your needs or personal objectives when providing the information. You should assess your own financial situation and needs and read the relevant Product Disclosure Statement before making a decision about products on this website. A Target Market Determination (TMD) is a document that outlines the target market a product has been designed for. Find the TMDs at australiansuper.com/TMD.

This website is provided by AustralianSuper Pty Ltd ABN 94 006 457 987, AFSL 233788, Trustee of AustralianSuper ABN 65 714 394 898 Superannuation Fund Number (SFN): 2683 519 45, Superannuation Product Identification Number (SPIN): STA0100AU.

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